The main man behind the biggest controversy at Stony Brook in a few years is former Athletic Director Jim Fiore. He was bought out Tuesday night by the school for $800,000, covering the remaining 31 months on his contract. There are many speculations as to the rationale behind his firing, but none have been confirmed yet.
But who is Jim Fiore? Fiore was the Athletic Director at Stony Brook since July of 2003 and was responsible for the growth of Stony Brook Athletics. When hired, he became the ninth AD in school history. Only 34 at the time, Fiore was regarded as one of the top young minds in the business. Before working at Stony Brook, Fiore served as the senior associate director of athletics at Princeton and the assistant director of athletics at Dartmouth.
Fiore is a Long Island native, graduating from Long Beach High School and then Hofstra University in 1991, where he received Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts. He received his master’s of education degree in athletic administration from Springfield College in 1994.
Since Fiore took the helm, Stony Brook has seen a good amount of regular season and conference tournament championships. The baseball team has two regular season championships and four conference tournaments, none bigger than 2012 when the team “Shocked the World” and made it all the way to the College World Series. That was the recognition Fiore had been hoping for, as the team became a national story. After that season, seven Seawolves were taken in the Major League Baseball Draft, including Travis Jankowski, who was taken by the San Diego Padres in the first round of the 2012 draft as the 44th pick.
The men’s basketball team has seen three regular season championships and has been close to the NCAA Tournament every year for the last few seasons. They even have several former student athletes playing overseas right now. Bryan Dougher, the all-time leading Division I scorer is playing in Australia as a starter with the Ringwood Hawks. Tommy Brenton is the program leader in rebounds and steals and finds himself starting on the Link Tochigi Brex in Japan.
Football has five regular season championships in the Fiore era and also has also seen the team move to a more competitive conference twice. When Fiore took over, they were part of the Northeast Conference and they finally joined the Big South Conference in 2008. During the 2007 season, the team was considered a Division I independent school. The Seawolves had at least a share of the Big South regular season championship from 2009-2012, which prompted the move to the Colonial Athletic Association.
Men’s lacrosse has also seen success during Fiore’s tenure, with four regular season championships and three conference tournament championships. They have also had numerous players drafted professionally into Major League Lacrosse. The 2011 class saw four players drafted, including Kevin Crowley who was the number one overall pick for the Hamilton Nationals.
Fiore also brought in Joe Spallina to coach the women’s lacrosse team in 2012. Spallina was a mastermind at Adelphi University, where he went 73-2 in his four seasons. Spallina also had an NCAA-record three consecutive Division II national championships. Since coming to Stony Brook, Spallina is a combined 31-8 with a 2012 America East Coach of the Year award.
Since Fiore took over, even some of the smaller sports have gained national recognition. In March 2012, Lucy Van Dalen became the school’s first NCAA individual champion and she also competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the women’s 1500-meter event.
The softball team, women’s soccer team, men and women’s cross country team and men and women’s tennis team have a combined 13 conference tournament championships during the Fiore era.
With the success of the teams came the changes in their facilities. Fiore changed the sports facilities on campus, including the Stony Brook University Arena, which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014. Fiore is also responsible for the new Joe Nathan Field, the University Track, the Goldstein Family Student-Athlete Development Center, Dubin Family Athletic Performance Center and renovating Pritchard Gymnasium in 2008.
The University Track, which is home to the men and women’s outdoor track and field programs went through a $3 million renovation project in 2011. It is a state-of-the-art track with an eight-lane oval and an infield made of the same turf as LaValle Stadium.
Joe Nathan Field was completed in May 2011 and is also made of the same turf. It seats 1,000 fans and has a 25-foot scoreboard, located behind the right field wall. The new field came with a very generous donation of $500,000 from Nathan, a six-time All-Star.
Another project that was completed by Fiore during his time at Stony Brook was the Dubin Family Athletic Performance Center. Glenn Dubin, a co-founder, chairman and CEO of Highbridge Capital Management is a 1978 graduate of Stony Brook. Dubin and his wife donated $4.3 million to build the strength and condition center for student athletes.
One of Fiore’s biggest projects has been the Stony Brook University Arena, which will be home to both the men and women’s basketball teams. It cost $21.1 million and was started in June 2012. The new arena is 40,000 square feet and will have brand new LED video displays from Daktronics. With the rise of both teams recently, a newer arena was much needed.
Once a low-level Division I team, Stony Brook now finds itself at the top of teams in the Northeast with the help of Fiore. While no one is too sure of what happened to get the most successful Athletic Director ever at Stony Brook fired, all would agree that he put Stony Brook on the map.